Floods blamed for 16 pipeline spillsBy MATTHEW BROWN
The Associated Press | January 04,2013BILLINGS, Mont. — Pipeline spills caused by flooding dumped 2.4 million gallons of crude oil and other hazardous liquids into U.S. waterways over the past two decades, according to a new report from federal regulators.
The Department of Transportation report to Congress was crafted in response to a 2011 spill into Montana’s Yellowstone River. The spill highlighted gaps in federal pipeline rules that require lines to be buried just 4 feet below riverbeds — scant cover that can quickly be scoured away by floodwaters.
The Associated Press obtained the report this week before its public release.
Regulators found flood-related pipeline spills since 1993 in California, Texas, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota and Kentucky. Of the 2.4 million gallons of oil, gasoline, propane and other hazardous liquids released, less than 300,000 gallons were recovered.
Although those accidents account for fewer than 1 percent of total number of pipeline accidents, the consequences of a release in water can be much more severe because of the threats to drinking water supplies and the heightened potential for environmental damage.
The most recent accidents came during flooding in 2011 throughout the Missouri River Basin.
Those include the Yellowstone River Spill, in which a severed Exxon Mobil Corp. pipeline released 63,000 gallons, a 4,200 gallon anhydrous ammonia spill into the Missouri River in Nebraska, and a 28,350 gallon gasoline spill into the Missouri River in Iowa.
U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, who requested the report with fellow Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester, said the results reveal “some pretty clear holes in pipeline oversight when it comes to flooding.”
But Baucus said the report leaves unanswered basic questions about what steps can be taken to prevent future accidents.
Transportation Department officials said in the report that they will report back to Congress within the next year on plans to ensure federal rules for pipeline crossings are sufficient.
There are at least 2,841 locations across the U.S. where hazardous liquid pipeline cross rivers and other bodies of water, according to the report.
In recent years, many pipeline companies have voluntarily buried their lines deeper than federal rules require. Using a technique called horizontal directional drilling, pipelines can be installed dozens of feet beneath riverbeds, minimizing the chances they could be exposed to damaging floodwaters and debris.
The technique can cost millions of dollars for a single water crossing.MORE IN Wire News
- Most Popular
- Most Emailed
- TOMORROW'S HEADLINES TODAY: No money this year for western rail project, Lola Aiken memorialized in Montpelier, Supreme Court Castleton murder suspect will remain in jail, Shaftbury man fires shots from his AK-47 into neighbor's home.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day in 1959, Soviet Premier Nikita S. Khrushchev arrives in U.S. for historic 13-day visit; in 1987, Secretary of State George Shultz and Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze sign nuclear reduction agreement.
- TOMORROW'S HEADLINES TODAY: City celebrates completion of its newest mural, on West Street opposite the post office, more than $2 million in federal grants will bolster Vermont's health centers, Patrick McArdle reports on pending sale of Vermont papers.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: Henry Hudson sails up the Hudson River as far as present-day Albany, Leo Szilard has epiphany waiting for the light to change, 3 kids report a West Virginia close encounter in 1952.
- TOMORROW'S HEADLINES TODAY: Who will run for mayor in Rutland next year? Has Bennington overcome its fear of twerking? Documentary 'Hungry Heart' packs the Paramount, and the city's Creek Path scores another million-plus dollars.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: The 1509 'Lesser Judgment' earthquake on this day at Constantinople kills 13,000 and destroys the city; in 1801, on this day, Marie Laveau, the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans is born.